There was no sign of conflict as supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday.
Dozens of supporters formed a human chain around šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (the official name of the art gallery’s North Plaza).
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“It’s inspired by Hong Kong people forming their own chain all across Hong Kong,” said organizer Jane Li.
“We wanted to do this in Vancouver as well to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters. Although we don’t have a lot of people in comparison with Hong Kong, we’re sending out a message telling Hong Kong, ‘Hey, we’re here for you.'”
The show of support came the same day as renewed clashes unfolded in Hong Kong, with protesters burning a Chinese flag and police responding with pepper spray.
Hong Kong police also accused some protesters of throwing gasoline bombs after a march by several thousand people in Tuen Mun, an outlying district in the northwest of the Chinese territory.
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The scene in Vancouver was markedly different, with Vancouver police standing by as demonstrators made speeches in support of Hong Kong protesters and attendees filled out notes of support to be mailed to jailed pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
“I believe people here understand why we’re fighting for democracy. It’s an important message,” said Li.
“Here we live in Canada, a democratic country, we have freedom of speech, the freedom to protest. We have a moral obligation to speak up for the people in Hong Kong.”
Last month, dueling demonstrations between pro-democracy and pro-China groups forced the closure of a major Vancouver intersection, as protesters spilled into the street at Cambie Street and Broadway.
Conflicts between police and protesters, who are mostly students, have been escalating for weeks as Hong Kong citizens demand democratic elections, an independent investigation into police force and the resignation of the territory’s leader, Carrie Lam.
With files from the Associated Press and Sean Boynton